On June 6, 2015, 25 teams lined up to compete in the first 24 hour race put on by All Out Adventure. Hardly a stranger to putting on events, All Out has been creating quality races in the San Luis Obispo area for many years. This however was their first time for a 24+ and the first time an AR race was held in the Mammoth Mountain area of the Eastern Sierras. I recruited a top navigator Dennis Wilkinson to join me for a two man team. The Sierras are a beautiful area and I was anxious to explore.
The race began with a short run to a bike transition, where we were to grab our bikes and ride the gondola up Mammoth Mountain to the peak. We were met with plenty of snow at the top, despite California's drought. After navigating the myriad ski runs to get back down the mountain, we were off for a long ride to Lake Crowley though confusing mountain trails, fire roads, and a bit of path finding. While we started in the lead with Dart-Nuun, somewhere during the ride we were passed by Tecnu who had found a better path and caught Dart-Nuun and both were first to the lake.
The paddle down Lake Crowley was straight forward enough (due South), but the weather threw us a massive hail storm as we pushed off. The storm was still in full fury coming off the water where we were around 30 minutes off the lead. We then found out that we had missed plotting a point where we were supposed to swim a finger of the lake. The swim was mandatory, so we figured there would be someone at the cliff bank checking off teams as they passed and would serve as our guide as the point to cross. After searching the banks for 45 minutes without finding the crossing point, we back-tracked and met a team who had it plotted. We discovered we had passed the point several times during our search without knowing it, and there was no one there checking teams off. Ouch. By now we were almost two hours behind the leaders to begin our 35 mile run.
Midway through the run was a 500' rappel down into a massive gorge that had been carved by the Owens River over thousands of years. It was spectacular. High, sheer cliffs defended the base from the dying sun and we searched in shadows for a goat trail out. This was the site of our other navigational error as we mistook an old abandoned mining structure for the power station where the trail was supposed to be found. After searching for another 45 minutes, we finally located the correct structure and climbed back out of the gorge to finish our run.
At 2:00 AM, we completed the run and transitioned back to bikes for a screaming downhill single track - the famous Rock Creek Trail. The trail dropped nearly 2,000 feet from Tom’s Place to the Owens Valley floor where we then had multiple optional checkpoints before finishing the bike to a short trek and the final paddle. As we were running short of time for the cutoff, we hit only one optional checkpoint, knowing the final paddle would be a long one and we didn't want to finish past the 12:00 cutoff.
The paddle was a ribbon of slow moving, shallow water of the Owens River after it exits the Pleasant Valley Reservoir. It took a technical effort to remain in the current and not get swept off the boat by the trees and bushes that lined the narrow banks, but it kept us engaged as the morning sun threatened to put us to sleep. The river was so crooked that for every 1 km as the crow flies, we paddled 3 kms (see photo). It took us a little over four hours to finish the paddle. All that was left was a 3 mile road "run" to the finish.
We ended up finishing in 3rd place, behind Tecnu who beat us by 10 minutes and 30 more CP points and Dart-Nuun who finished an amazing 43 seconds before the cutoff time, an hour behind us, but with 20 more CP points. Overall, a decent finish given our earlier challenges. I had a great time racing with Dennis, who is an amazing athlete. For their first 24+ hour race, Kristin and Yishai of All Out put on a great race with plenty of strategic options in a fantastic part of the country. We appreciate the amount of time and "love" that race directors put into their events to allow us to quench our quest for adventure.